The San Francisco International Film Festival dominates the week in specialty Bay Area movie going, but it doesn’t dominate it completely.
Comedy Shorts Night, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum
The Adventurer is one of Charlie Chaplin’s funniest shorts from his excellent Mutual period. Many Buster Keaton fans consider The Boat one of his best shorts; I disagree but I still like it. I haven’t seen the Charley Chase vehicle, Looking for Sally.
We Faw Down isn’t one of Laurel and Hardy’s best silents, but it’s still very funny. Greg Pane provides piano accompaniment.
Purple Rain, Roxie, Friday and Saturday, midnight; Balboa, Saturday, 11:30pm
We’ve lost Prince, but we still have his work (I confess that I was never much of a fan). The Roxie will screen this feature vehicle in memorial. I haven’t seen the movie in over 30 years (and then I saw it on VHS), so I have no opinions on it.
A- On the Waterfront, various CineMark theaters, Sunday and Wednesday; Stanford, Thursday through Sunday
A thug-run union and conflicted loyalties drive this revered drama, shot on location in New York. Marlon Brando stands out amongst a brilliant cast as a half-bright dock worker struggling between loyalty to family and to society as a whole. Yet some plot twists are just too convenient. A bigger problem: Both writer Budd Schulberg and director Elia Kazan named names to get off the anti-Communist blacklist, then made this film to justify their acts of cowardice. The Stanford will screen Waterfront on a double bill with A Streetcar Named Desire.
B+ The Station Agent, Pacific Film Archive, Tuesday, 7:00
It’s hard to make a good film where almost nothing happens, but writer/director Thomas McCarthy pulls it off. A train fanatic (Peter Dinklage) inherits an out-of-use station in rural New Jersey, moves there, and makes two good friends. That’s about it, but the characters, the performances, and the atmosphere carry the picture. A San Francisco International Film Festival event honoring McCarthy, winner of this year’s Kanbar Storytelling Award.
Lebowskies (frequently-revived classics)
- The Birds & Marnie, Stanford, through Sunday
- Aliens, New Parkway, Tuesday, 8:30 (part of the San Francisco International Film Festival)